The great game…in Africa

by Rashmee

Posted on February 10, 2020


Europe is fighting hard to be relevant to Africa, its nearest continental neighbour. Today (Feb. 10) is the Africa Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and AU headquarters. And it’s drawn European Council president Charles Michel – he’s been in Addis since Sunday – for some two dozen bilateral meetings with African … Continue reading “The great game…in Africa”

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Questions still linger about colonial-era artefacts

by Rashmee

Posted on December 3, 2019 / The National


Let’s face it, the treatment of colonial-era art can’t really ever be a science. Certainly not in the 21st century, with its increasingly acrimonious debate over race, sovereignty and historic injustice. Even so, politicians, academics and activists, both east and west, say that it’s a start to at least acknowledge the reasons African and Asian … Continue reading “Questions still linger about colonial-era artefacts”

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This week, Britain has a deadline to give up its last African colony

by Rashmee

Posted on November 16, 2019


“Global” Britain, that post-Brexit paradox, is coming at the UK in surprising ways. Britain is under international pressure to give up its last African colony, the remote Chagos islands. But Britain doesn’t recognize Mauritius’s claim over what it calls the British Indian Ocean Island Territory, and the issue continues to fester. And it comes to … Continue reading “This week, Britain has a deadline to give up its last African colony”

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Jallianwala Bagh massacre: ‘Regret’ doesn’t cut it, Britain ought to say ‘sorry’

by Rashmee

Posted on April 20, 2019 / First Post


  On the hundredth anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on April 13, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh demanded an unequivocal apology from Britain, deeming prime minister Theresa May’s days-old expression of deep “regret” as insufficient. What would change had May used the word sorry? Would a formal apology convince India that its former coloniser … Continue reading “Jallianwala Bagh massacre: ‘Regret’ doesn’t cut it, Britain ought to say ‘sorry’”

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Missionary John Chau’s death shows that colonialist ideas of indigenous peoples are still with us

by Rashmee

Posted on November 28, 2018 / The National


There are startling echoes of Somerset Maugham’s 1921 short story “Rain” in the recent death of John Chau. “Rain” is about a proselytising American missionary on the islands of the Pacific. Chau died in an attempt to convert to Christianity a hunter-gatherer tribe on North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal. Both stories illustrate … Continue reading “Missionary John Chau’s death shows that colonialist ideas of indigenous peoples are still with us”

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Melania Trump’s pith helmet represented ‘white supremacist’ 21st-cent colonising force

by Rashmee

Posted on October 11, 2018


I found Elliot Ross’s analysis of Melania Trump’s pith helmet in the African grassland pretty compelling. Mr Ross, who is completing his PhD in English Literature at Columbia University, writes the following: “My own view is that the US first lady’s decision to wear a pith helmet was appropriate and should be taken seriously. The … Continue reading “Melania Trump’s pith helmet represented ‘white supremacist’ 21st-cent colonising force”

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Melania Trump’s Africa wardrobe evoked a brutal history of colonialism

by Rashmee

Posted on October 10, 2018 / The National


It is pointless to parse US first lady Melania Trump’s outfits for meaning, as the former model is not known to be passionate about political causes. But the white pith helmet she wore on a visit to Nairobi National Park in Kenya, part of her four-country tour of Africa, deserves scrutiny. The pith helmet, originally … Continue reading “Melania Trump’s Africa wardrobe evoked a brutal history of colonialism”

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How I was drawn into the strangest debate of them all. That #India-is-not-a-sub-continent

by Rashmee

Posted on August 26, 2017


“Dear Rashmee Lall,” the email began, omitting part of my surname. “I admire your work and your dedication to it a lot.” But please stop describing South Asia as a sub-continent. It’s “divisive, colonial and ‘funny’.” Or words to that effect. Basically, my correspondent saw it as a sign of intense disloyalty and buried colonial … Continue reading “How I was drawn into the strangest debate of them all. That #India-is-not-a-sub-continent”

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Everyone’s talking about George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. Read his essay ‘Marrakech’ instead

by Rashmee

Posted on February 10, 2017


Everyone is going on about George Orwell and 1984 these days but I would venture to suggest that his essays are a whole lot better and possibly more germane to the moment in which we find ourselves. Especially ‘Marrakech’, which was first published in 1939, and is much less well known than some of his other … Continue reading “Everyone’s talking about George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. Read his essay ‘Marrakech’ instead”

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In the republic of poetry, there will be no one dislocated from history

by Rashmee

Posted on March 14, 2016


Can poetry ease an immigrant’s sense of dislocation? Only to the extent that it might help understand it a bit better. Martin Espada, who is one of my favourite modern poets (see his ‘The Republic of Poetry’ below) is a Puerto Rican writer from New York. He describes himself as “doubly dislocated: first, there is dislocation … Continue reading “In the republic of poetry, there will be no one dislocated from history”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK